Parents: What You Should Know Before Applying for a Student Loan

Before filling out loan applications or accepting student loans, consider future repayment and whether you or your student is going to be responsible for making payments.

While your student’s financial aid award letter may list federal student loans, be aware that undergraduate students can take out only so much in federal student loans each year. If additional student loans above that limit are required, you may need to consider private student loans or parent loans.

Future Repayment Considerations

Here are some of the considerations you and your student will need to think about when using loans to pay for college.

The debt will need to be repaid.

Student loans are not usually dischargeable for bankruptcy or other financial hardship. When you think about a future repayment amount, remember:

  • The repayment amount will be more than the original loan amount. Student loans accrue interest on a daily basis. At certain times, unpaid accrued interest may be capitalized, or added to the principal balance, and begin accruing interest as well.
  • Payments may come from a limited income. Carefully consider how much a graduate with your student’s major can realistically expect to make in an entry-level position and how student loan payments may affect a limited budget. Our free online tool, Student Loan Game Plan, can help your student see how student loan debt may have future financial implications and provides ideas for borrowing less.

Interest and other payments can be made during college.

Most lenders, including the federal government, allow early or extra payments on student loans at any time without penalty. In addition, paying interest as it accrues during school can reduce the amount of interest that will need to be repaid after graduation.

College choices matter.

If you find that you or your student cannot afford to take on enough debt to pay the full cost of attendance, a new plan might be essential. Some options for students include:

  • Earning more. Your student can increase the ability to pay college costs as they occur by earning more income during school terms and on breaks.
  • Reducing expenses. The full cost of attendance may include expenses that can be cut. Can living off campus without a meal plan save money? Are the book and fees and transportation costs realistic for you or your student?
  • Asking for help. Are relatives willing to help pay for college? Are additional scholarships, either through the school or outside entities, available?
  • Attending a less-expensive school. If the cost of attendance is still not affordable without taking on unmanageable debt, your student may need to consider attending a less-expensive school, at least for a year or two.

Visit Student Loan Game Plan for more information and tips.

Clarify repayment responsibility.

Be sure you discuss with your student who is going to be responsible for making payments on additional private or parent loans that will be taken out. Remember that lenders and federal loan servicers will consider the person who signed the promissory note or credit agreement to be the responsible party regardless of any verbal agreement you make with your student.

Options for Parents Taking Out Education Loans for Their Child

If you intend to take out loans in your name to help with your child’s college expenses, consider these options.

Private Educational Loans

Private educational loans created for parents can be a good option for parents who have solid credit and a low debt-to-income ratio because they tend to qualify for lower rates than are available with a federal parent PLUS loan. Some private educational loan options, like our College Family Loan, do not have origination and payment late fees, while the federal parent PLUS loan has both.

Parent PLUS Loans

The parent PLUS loan is a federal loan that is an option for parents who need more money to pay the full cost of college and may be included in financial aid letters.

Approval for a parent PLUS loan does not take into consideration income, other outstanding debt, assets, income or years to retirement, so consider carefully how much you will realistically be able to repay.

Compare Iowa Student Loan’s private student loan for parents to the parent PLUS loan.

Options for Students Taking Additional Student Loans

Students need to have a creditworthy cosigner for any private student loans, unless they can meet underwriting criteria on their own.

Every lender has its own underwriting criteria, qualification requirements, loan terms and repayment schedules. Before your student signs for a loan or you cosign with your student, research your options. Consider:

  • Variable vs. fixed interest rates. A variable rate may go up or down according to market conditions, while a fixed rate remains the same throughout the loan term. A low variable rate is often appealing, but remember that it may change drastically over the loan term.
  • Actual interest rate. Many lenders offer different rates based on the applicants’ and cosigners’ credit. If you are unable to determine your rate upfront, consider the highest rates.
  • Repayment assistance and benefits. Some lenders or loan servicers offer assistance if a borrower is unable to make required monthly payments. Some loans also offer special benefits, such as a reduced interest rate for making automatic electronic payments. Consider these features carefully.
  • Managing repayment. Will additional loans be needed for future years? Should all loans be obtained from a single or limited number of lenders to make repayment simpler? Will consolidating multiple loans later be important, and does the lender offer that option?

Iowa Student Loan has private loans for both students and parents. Check out our competitive loans that works with your specific financial situation.

Comparing Salary to Debt

How do you know if you can afford a particular college or how much is too much to take out in student loans? One key indicator recommended by experts is a monthly student loan debt-to-income ratio of 8%–12%. An easier way to think of this is that total student loan debt, for all years of college, should be no more than the expected first-year salary.

Iowa Student Loan’s Student Loan Game Plan is an interactive online tutorial that walks students through this concept, as well as several other important points about borrowing for college, including:

  • Stories about the issues faced by real-life borrowers when they took on too much student loan debt.
  • Common choices students make that can affect their overall student loan debt level, including how long it takes to graduate, working during college, living arrangements and monthly spending.
  • A realistic starting salary and yearly borrowing level for specific college majors.
  • The ability to see how making voluntary interest payments during college affects total estimated loan repayment and monthly payment amounts.
  • A sample monthly budget for after college that includes income based on the user’s choice of major, student loan payments and national average expenses.
  • Tips for reducing expenses and the need to borrow to pay for college costs.
  • An action plan to commit to actions students can take before and during college to reduce overall debt levels.

Make your Student Loan Game Plan now.

By: Iowa Student Loan

How Working Can Help Your College Student

Wking-Help-College-Student

The financial, networking and training benefits of working part-time while in college can seem pretty obvious. Students earn cash that can be used to offset loans, pay college costs and fund other expenses. They learn to value money and to budget. They can connect with professionals who may be able to help them locate and succeed in future jobs. They learn how to navigate the workplace, gain skills they can use in their careers and put classroom lessons into practical use.

What may not be so obvious is how working part-time during the academic year can also boost a student’s grades. Although a student’s first job is performing well in school, working for pay a few hours a week may help the student achieve more academically.

The most recent data available from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) demonstrates that the academic performance of students who work 1–19 hours a week was better than all other students’ performance, including those who worked more or less and those who didn’t work at all.

According to 2016 NCES data:
  • The average GPA for all full-time college students is 2.94.
  • Those who worked 10–19 hours per week earned an average GPA of 3.02.
  • Those who worked 1–9 hours per week earned an average GPA of 3.08.
  • Those who did not work earned an average GPA of 2.94.

GPA Per Hours Worked

Estimated Hours Worked Per Week

Average GPA

0–40+ (overall) 2.94
0 2.94
1–9 3.08
10–19 3.02
20–29 2.88
30–39 2.86
40+ 2.95
Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015–2016 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS: 16)

Why Working Works

The reasons for the grade boost may vary widely by student, job and college, but researchers often conclude that the busier schedule forces students to better manage their available time.

Hanna, a graduate of an Iowa high school attending Kansas State University, agrees. “Having the extra responsibility of a part-time job forces me to study more efficiently,” she said. “I know I won’t have the time to keep procrastinating.”

Another possible reason for the higher average GPA may be that students who work to pay for part of their education expenses are more invested in the outcome. Students who are likely to succeed because of their own goals and motivation may also be more likely to look for and obtain part-time work.

By: Iowa Student Loan

Know Which Student Loans Are Right for You

Financial aid letters may include more money — through federal loans — than students or families need, and it’s not always clear that students and parents don’t need to accept the loans or the full amount of all loans.

It may seem obvious, but reducing the amount borrowed today will mean less debt after graduation. Especially since borrowers not only have to repay the original loan amount but also the interest that accrues daily on those loans. Once a loan has been accepted and the funds have been sent to the college or university, the student (or parent, in the case of a federal parent PLUS loan) is responsible for repaying it, no matter how the college journey ends.

If the federal loan amount on a student’s financial aid letter seems like more than the student will need, students and parents do have the option to accept less than the offered loan amount or decline one or more loans completely. And if the financial aid and offered federal loans are not enough, private student loans and parent PLUS loans are options to fill any funding gaps.

Let’s take a look at the different types of loans that are available and how to decide which ones to maximize and which to minimize or dismiss completely.

Types of Student Loans

Student loans, and education loans for parents or family members, are not all the same. Loans for college fall into two categories: loans (called federal loans) backed by the federal government and loans (called private loans) offered by private companies, like banks, credit unions and student loan–only financial institutions.

Understanding the differences between these loans and the types of each can help students and families decide which loans to accept and which to decline or reduce.

Subsidized and Unsubsidized Federal Loans

Subsidized federal loans are for students who show a financial need, and the federal government pays the interest during specific periods, such as when the student is in school. Information students provide on the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) each year determines if they qualify for subsidized federal loans.

Unsubsidized federal loans are an option for all students who complete the FAFSA as financial need is not considered. The student is responsible for all interest, which starts accruing at the time the loan funds are sent to the school.

For both subsidized and unsubsidized federal student loans:

  • The student is responsible for repaying the loan.
  • Repayment begins when the grace period ends, which is typically six months after graduation, dropping below half-time enrollment or leaving school.
  • There is a loan fee of just more than 1% for subsidized federal loans that is deducted from the total loan amount before it is sent to the college or university.

Take advantage or minimize this loan? These are the best student loans to accept the full amount offered or as much as necessary, if loan funds are needed.

Private Loans

For Students
Private student loans are an option for students who need extra funds to cover college costs after exploring and exhausting all sources of student financial aid. Students typically need an eligible cosigner, and loan terms and offers vary by lender. Typically these loans have fewer benefits and may have higher rates than federal loans for students. The student and cosigners, if applicable, are responsible for repaying the loan. Repayment typically starts six months after the student graduates, drops below half-time enrollment or leaves school. However, programs vary, and lower rates may be offered if payments are required to be made while the student is in school. In today’s market, most private loans offered to students with creditworthy cosigners do not include an upfront origination fee.

Take advantage or minimize this loan? Students should exhaust any federal loans for students before considering a private loan, only borrow what is needed and consider their ability to successfully repay these loans.

For Parents
Private loans for parents are another option for families who cannot cover expected college costs after the student’s financial aid is exhausted. These loans are usually available to parents, guardians and even family members. Rates for these loans will often depend on the borrower’s credit score and debt-to-income levels. Not all parents will qualify for these loans, but those who need these loans want to ensure that the rates they are offered are lower than the parent PLUS loan. In today’s market, most private loans offered to creditworthy parents or others do not include an upfront origination fee.

Our College Family Loan is one such private loan option — offering lower fixed rates than the parent PLUS loan and no fees — for parents, family members or others who wish to help with a student’s college costs.

Take advantage or minimize this loan? If additional funding is needed, borrowing through a private lender should be limited to only what is needed and borrowers should consider their ability to successfully repay these loans in the future.

Federal Parent PLUS Loans

Parent PLUS loans are federal loans for parents of undergraduate students (PLUS loans are also available for graduate or professional students). PLUS loans typically have higher interest rates than loans for undergraduate students, but applicants nearly always qualify for the loan.

For parent PLUS loans, the biological or adoptive parent (or in some cases, the stepparent) is the only one responsible for repaying the loan, and those payments start as soon as the funds are disbursed to the school. Parents can request a deferment so that payments are not required while the student is enrolled at least half time and during a grace period. There is a loan fee of more than 4% for PLUS loans that is deducted from the total loan amount before it is sent to the college or university.

Take advantage or minimize this loan? Use caution with these loans and borrow only what is needed. Keep in mind that the terms and repayment choices offered for PLUS loans are not as generous as federal loans for students. If possible, parents should try to determine if they can receive a better rate and fee combination from a private lender.

Iowa Student Loan’s Private Student Loan for Parents

Parent PLUS loans may appear to be part of the offered financial aid, but it is not required that parents accept the loan. These also may not be the best loan option for parents with good credit. Before accepting a parent PLUS loan, parents or family members wishing to help a student with college costs may want to compare the terms and benefits of a parent PLUS loan with private educational loans, like our College Family Loan.

The College Family Loan is for creditworthy parents or family members who wish to assist college students with their education expenses. The College Family Loan:

  • Features lower rates than those currently available for the parent PLUS loan.
  • Has no origination, prepayment or late fees.
  • Offers three repayment options during the student’s college years.
  • Is not limited to parents, unlike the parent PLUS loan.
  • Is available no matter where in the United States the student attends college or where the student or borrower lives.

Learn more about the College Family Loan

Before Applying for a Student Loan

So, awarded financial aid isn’t enough to cover the full cost of attendance and you know you or your student will need additional student loans to pay for college. Before filling out loan applications, consider future repayment for any loans. Here’s what you need to know.

Federal student loans are limited.

Undergraduate students can take out only so much in federal student loans each year. If additional student loans above that limit are required, you may need to consider private student loans or parent loans.

Undergraduates need adult assistance.

Students need to have a creditworthy cosigner for any private student loans, unless they can meet underwriting criteria on their own. If parents are willing to consider a federal Parent PLUS Loan, the parents will need to borrow that money and be responsible for paying it back themselves.

The debt will need to be repaid.

Student loans are not usually dischargeable for bankruptcy or other financial hardship. When you think about a future repayment amount, remember:

  • The repayment amount will be more than the original loan amount. Student loans accrue interest on a daily basis. At certain times, unpaid accrued interest may be capitalized, or added to the principal balance, and begin accruing interest as well.
  • Payments may come from a limited income. Carefully consider how much a graduate with the same major can realistically expect to make in an entry-level position. Add anticipated student loan payments for all the undergraduate years, including any federal loans in the financial aid package, to anticipated expenses for a realistic budget based on a starting salary. If all your expenses can’t be covered with a realistic starting salary, student loan debt may need to be reconsidered.

Interest and other payments can be made during college.

Most lenders allow early or extra payments on student loans at any time without penalty. In addition, paying interest as it accrues during school can reduce the amount of interest that will need to be repaid after graduation.

Private student loans vary.

Every lender has its own underwriting criteria, qualification requirements, loan terms and repayment schedules. Before you sign for a loan, research your options. Consider:

  • Variable vs. fixed interest rates. A variable rate may go up or down according to market conditions, while a fixed rate remains the same throughout the loan term. A low variable rate is often appealing, but remember that it may change drastically over the loan term.
  • Actual interest rate. Many lenders offer different rates based on the applicants’ and cosigners’ credit. If you are unable to determine your rate upfront, consider the highest rates.
  • Repayment assistance and benefits. Some lenders or loan servicers offer assistance if a borrower is unable to make required monthly payments. Some loans also offer special benefits, such as a reduced interest rate for making automatic electronic payments. Consider these features carefully.
  • Managing repayment. Will additional loans be needed for future years? Should all loans be obtained from a single or limited number of lenders to make repayment easier? Will consolidating multiple loans later be important, and does the lender offer that option?

College choices matter.

If you find that you or your student cannot afford to take on enough debt to pay the full cost of attendance, a new plan might be essential. Some options students have include:

  • Earning more. Increase the ability to pay college costs as they occur by earning more income during school terms and on breaks.
  • Reducing expenses. The full cost of attendance may include expenses that can be cut. Can living off campus without a meal plan save money? Are the book and fees and transportation costs realistic for you or your student?
  • Asking for help. Are relatives willing to help pay for college? Are additional scholarships, either through the school or outside entities, available?
  • Attending a less-expensive school. If the cost of attendance is still not affordable without taking on unmanageable debt, you may need to consider attending a less-expensive school, at least for a year or two.

Visit Student Loan Game Plan for more information and tips.

By: Iowa Student Loan

The Graduation Checklist for Parents

This milestone for your student can mean a lot of work for you. Use this checklist to bring some order to the chaos.

Work with your student to be sure they’ve completed the administrative steps to officially graduate.

  • Remind your student to follow through on these tips for college students and high school graduates.
  • Your student should receive information on how and where to obtain a cap and gown—along with any special stoles, pins, tassels or regalia—for the ceremony.

Consider mementos of the occasion.

  • Your student will have the opportunity to order class rings, yearbooks and other products to mark this important milestone. Check for deadlines.
  • Graduation is also a good opportunity for family and individual photos. Many photographers specialize in senior portraits.

Make any reservations required.

  • If you will be traveling to a college graduation, you may find that hotel rooms and transportation options are booked quickly and up to a year in advance.
  • Graduation party venues may also become scarce depending on location and number of other graduates on your desired date.
  • If you will order baked goods, catering, tents or other services, be sure to start that process early.

Invite friends and family to the party.

  • Work with your student to plan a celebration everyone will enjoy.
  • If guests ask what they can gift to your high school graduate, consider suggesting contributions to a college saving account or a gift card that can be used for textbooks and materials.
  • Don’t forget to have thank-you cards on hand for your student to send shortly after the celebration.

Start planning the move.

  • Whether your college student is moving to a new job or returning home for a while, he or she may need assistance. See our moving checklist for college graduates.
  • As your high school graduate prepares to move to campus, keep a copy of the college’s suggested packing list handy. Also see some items you may want to take care of before fall term begins.

By: Iowa Student Loan

Parent PLUS Loan Features, Benefits and Drawbacks: What You Need to Know

The parent PLUS loan is a federal loan that is just one option available to parents looking to cover outstanding costs related to college attendance. Before applying for a parent PLUS loan, carefully consider its features, benefits and drawbacks.

Features of the Parent PLUS Loan

  • Availability: The parent PLUS loan is available to biological and adoptive parents, and in some cases stepparents, of undergraduate students who do not have adverse credit history. Some colleges may include the PLUS Loan in a student’s financial aid; however, just because a PLUS Loan is included does not mean that parents are required to accept it.
  • Limits: A parent can borrow up to the cost of attendance, an amount that is determined by the student’s school, minus other financial assistance received by the student.
  • Interest rate: The parent PLUS loan has a fixed interest rate, which is 7.60% for loans taken out for the 2018–2019 school year. The rate for the 2019–2020 year will be set on July 1, and it may be helpful to note that the rate for new loans has increased each of the last three years.
  • Fees: An additional loan fee is calculated as a percentage of the loan amount (currently 4.248% for disbursements on or before Sept. 30, 2019) and is deducted from each disbursement.
  • Repayment: Borrowers may choose from different plans to repay the loan over a 10-year period. Loans of more than $30,000 are eligible for an extended repayment period that allows borrowers up to 25 years to repay the loan. Repayment generally begins as soon as the loan is disbursed, but parents may request to defer repayment while the student is enrolled at least half time plus an additional six months.

Benefits of the Parent PLUS Loan

  • Pre- and overpayment: Some borrowers choose to make extra payments to pay down parent PLUS loans more quickly and to reduce the amount of interest repaid. There is no penalty for paying extra on PLUS Loans.
  • Federal repayment options: Borrowers may choose from different federal repayment plans to fit their budget, but most income-driven repayment plans are not options for parent PLUS loans. These loans also have deferment and forbearance options for borrowers who have difficulty making payments; however, interest continues to accrue daily even when payments are not required. Unpaid, accumulated interest will be capitalized, or added to the loan balance, at the end of the deferment or forbearance period.
  • Death and disability: The loan can be discharged if the parent borrower dies or becomes totally and permanently disabled. In addition, the loan can be discharged if the student dies.
  • Cancellation: If a parent applies for a PLUS Loan, he or she can cancel all or part of the amount before the loan is disbursed to the school. After disbursement, borrowers have a limited time to cancel all or part of the loan amount by contacting the school’s financial aid office.

Drawbacks of the Parent PLUS Loan

  • Discharge: Federal parent PLUS loans are rarely discharged for financial difficulties resulting from unemployment, age-related or other illnesses and injuries, or bankruptcy.
  • Nontransferable: Parents cannot transfer the PLUS loan to their student to repay after they finish school. Parents and their students may be able to work together to refinance the loan in the student’s name through a private lender; although doing so will result in the loss of federal repayment options.
  • Timing: Many parents face high education debt burdens at a time of life when earning power generally decreases and limited income is needed for living or medical expenses. Defaulting on a parent PLUS loan can lead to the garnishment of Social Security benefits, tax refunds and wages.

Other Considerations Before Taking Out a Parent PLUS Loan

The following items could be considered a drawback or a benefit, depending on personal and other circumstances.

  • Qualification: Approval for a PLUS Loan does not take into consideration a parent’s income, other outstanding debt, assets or years until retirement, so parents should carefully consider how much they can realistically repay.
  • Interest: The fixed interest rate will not increase during the life of the loan, but borrowers also won’t be able to take advantage of lower market rates in the future unless they refinance with a private lender.

Before taking on a parent PLUS loan, you should also compare it to other options, such as our College Family Loan, which is a private education loan with a cosigner option and that features lower rates than the parent PLUS loan as well as no fees.

Interested in the benefits of our College Family Loan? Check out the details here.

By: Iowa Student Loan

Plan for Total College Costs; Enter to Win

Use the free College Funding Forecaster online tool now through April 30 and enter for a chance at one of 10 $1,000 awards.

The College Funding Forecaster helps you get a clearer picture of the total costs, aid and shortfalls over four years using freshman year financial aid award information, as well as family contributions and outside scholarships and grants.

How to Use the College Funding Forecaster

Follow these simple steps to get started:

  1. Gather up your financial aid award information from the college(s) and any information about scholarships received from schools or outside organizations.
  2. Go to IowaStudentLoan.org/Forecaster.
  3. Enter in the college’s financial information as well as information about your family’s earnings and savings and any outside awards.
  4. Review year-by-year estimates and make adjustments for your own situation. For example, living off campus after sophomore year may cost less than living on campus. Or you may be expecting to earn more after the first year of college.
  5. Review the results, as well as the informational tips on how to address funding shortfalls.
  6. Enter your information at the end of the tool to be included in the drawings.

Awards for College

Iowa high school seniors and their parents and guardians can enter the giveaway for a chance at one of 10 $1,000 awards paid to the college on behalf of the winning students.

Use the tool and enter the giveaway today! 

Learn More About the Tool

By: Iowa Student Loan

Checklist for College Prep

With your student’s final year of high school winding down, the list of things to do may seem limitless. One way to help manage the stress and emotions of the final months before your child goes off to college is to make an organized checklist.

Here are some items to include for each month between now and the start of freshman year of college:

March

□ If your student hasn’t made a final college decision, visit or revisit those that have offered acceptance and your student is still considering.

  • Use these trips to help your student envision what it would be like to attend each school and decide if it’s a good fit.
  • You may wish to help your student set up visits to specific departments or programs or to sit in classes.

□ Compare financial aid offers from the schools that remain on the list. Your student can contact a school’s financial aid office with any questions about the aid offered.

April

□ Work with your student to make a final college selection by the end of the month, as many colleges require a commitment by May 1.

  • Your student should notify the chosen school and make any required deposits.
  • Check for specific forms or actions that need to be completed, and add deadlines to your calendar.
  • Your student should also notify other schools that he or she will not attend and send a thank-you for any special assistance or offers.

□ Help your student understand the full cost of attending college.

  • Have a family conversation about what you will and won’t help with financially.
  • Encourage your student to continue looking for scholarships that can help defray the cost of attendance. You may wish to investigate how the college will apply any outside scholarships to aid already awarded, such as whether outside scholarships would replace institutional scholarships from the college or offset student loans.

□ Help your student set reminders for requesting final transcripts.

  • The high school counseling office may have required forms or processes for this.
  • Check on whether the student needs to make a separate request for transcripts for any college courses already completed, such as dual enrollment classes.

□ Check personal IDs and documents.

  • Have your student renew his or her driver’s license or passport if necessary before going to college.
  • Consider TSA Precheck and Global Entry if your student will be flying frequently or expects to travel internationally.

□ Help your student finish strong.

  • Advanced Placement exams occur at the beginning of May. If your student is enrolled in AP classes, be sure to help them understand if a particular score is needed to obtain credit for courses at the selected college.
  • Encourage your student to try to achieve the best grades possible for second semester of senior year. Disciplinary or academic issues could result in a college rescinding acceptance or scholarships.

May

□ Review the college’s timeline for completing actions and submitting forms and deposits.

  • Your student may need to sign up for orientation to enroll in classes, select a residence hall or roommates, opt in or out of college-sponsored health insurance and take other action.
  • Work with your student to set up access to a student or parent portal offered by the college.
  • Determine whether the college requires a Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) agreement to provide parents with information about a student.

□ Make a four-year plan for coursework.

  • If your student has decided on a major, look for an existing flowchart or plan of required and elective classes available from the school. If none is available, look at the requirements for the major and start to plan out possibilities based on class offerings from previous years’ course catalogs.
  • Even if your student is undecided, you can look together for interesting entry-level classes, prerequisites for a particular academic college and graduation requirements to create a one- to two-year plan.

□ Plan needed transportation and accommodations.

  • Many college towns have limited hotel availability, especially on popular weekends for move-in, parent weekends, breaks and move-out.
  • Watch for deals on airfare, hotels and other accommodations and venues.

June

□ Work on life skills with your student.

  • Ensure your student can carry out the functions of everyday college life, such as waking up on time for early classes, doing laundry, arranging transportation, making appointments and preparing simple meals.
  • Discuss how your student will obtain money, such as from a job or from you, and access it for transactions. Many students use combinations of a credit or debit card, payment apps like Venmo or PayPay, cash withdrawals, and other forms of payment.

□ Encourage contact with future roommates.

  • Whether your student selected or was assigned a roommate, it can be helpful for people who will be sharing a small space for an extended time to have some preliminary conversations about preferences, habits, who is bringing what and any special needs.
  • You may want to encourage a meeting before move-in if the roommate lives nearby or can arrange to attend the same orientation session as your student.

□ Develop a network.

  • The college your child will attend may have parent associations, alumni groups or other organizations you can join.
  • Look for groups on social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. These groups can be a forum for information and support now and throughout college.

July

□ Start exploring the college community with your student.

  • You may wish to find activities to participate in for future visits.
  • Your student may want to investigate student organizations, community service opportunities, events and activities as well.

□ Shop for books and supplies.

  • As soon as the class schedule is finalized, your student can start looking for assigned books. Encourage comparison shopping between the college bookstore, other bookstores and online sites. Also compare rentals to used and new purchases, and compare downloads and ebooks to printed materials.
  • Be aware that many college courses also require an electronic access code, which may not be included with used, rented or electronic versions.
  • Determine what dorm furnishings and supplies are needed and start shopping for those.

□ Talk to your student about common college student issues and how to get help.

  • You may wish to talk about drug and alcohol use, as well as other behaviors.
  • College students often face academic issues when entering college, even if they were excellent high school students. Discuss the advantages and availability of professor office hours, study groups, teaching assistants, help centers, tutoring and other resources.
  • Mental health can often be a concern for college students as well. Most campuses offer counseling and other services; encourage your student to be aware of how to reach out.
  • Your student may have specific physical, dietary, emotional or other needs. If you are unsure about the help available, contact student services or admissions for direction.

□ Consider dorm or renters insurance for lost, damaged or stolen valuable items like laptops, cell phones, bikes and other assets. Homeowners insurance may cover some losses for your student, but an inexpensive dorm policy from a specialized provider may be an option if you have a high deductible.

August

□ Make a communication plan.

  • Sometimes it’s helpful for the parents and the student to know when they will next speak to each other after the move.
  • You may want to set up a regular time and day for a video or phone chat.

□ Get ready for the big move. Be prepared for emotions to run high as your student faces a new situation and leaving behind familiar friends and family.

By: Iowa Student Loan

4 Hot Tips for Refinancing Your Parent PLUS Loans

Well they did it — they made it to college. While your children may be busy with college classes or working at the job that college education afforded them, you may be making payments on federal PLUS Loans for parents for many more years to come.

Parent PLUS loans are pretty easy to get and many schools “packaged” these loans for parents into students’ financial aid award letters. Those conveniences come with a hidden price, though. Repayment options that may be great for some but not beneficial to others and interest rates that are often higher than financially savvy consumers deserve and that vary each academic year.

Today, education loan refinance rates are often much lower than what you may be paying for your PLUS loans.

When Should You Refinance Your Parent PLUS Loans?

Although refinancing federal parent PLUS loans may not be the right choice for everyone, here are four examples of when doing so might be the right thing for you.

1. When you want a single lower rate

Parent PLUS loans are fixed-rate loans, so the rate for the school year your child used the funds is the rate that specific loan will always be. For example, PLUS loans taken out for the 2018–2019 school year have fixed rates of 7.60%.

And because rates for new PLUS loans change every year, if you have more than one parent PLUS loan, each loan likely has a different rate. Since 2006, rates have been as low as 6.31% and as high as 8.50%.

Refinancing PLUS loans is more common than ever, and it’s easy to combine multiple loans into one new loan with one rate. And, with private lenders, the rates you are offered are based on your credit, not a number set by the federal government for everyone. The better your credit, the lower the interest rate you will be offered.

Keep in mind: Many lenders offer online tools to provide you with a rate quote or pre-qualification offer. Some companies make you create an account before getting their information, so be sure they are only making a “soft” inquiry into your credit history or that their website states the information will not impact your credit score.

Want to see what rates you would get with our refinance loan?

If you don’t qualify to refinance your parent PLUS loans with a private lender, you have the option to consolidate those federal loans through the U.S. Department of Education. If you apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan, the interest rates of your current federal loans are used to determine your new consolidation loan rate, though, so you may not see a lower overall rate. Learn more about the differences between consolidating and refinancing with our Beginner’s Guide to Student Loan Refinance.

2. When you want to lower your payment

Parent PLUS loans are owned by the federal government, and, along with being fairly easy to get, they have a basic repayment term of 10 years. The federal government offers extended repayment, up to 25 years, to borrowers who owe more than $30,000 in PLUS loans. But what if your current remaining term or the amount you owe each month doesn’t work for you?

If you are looking to lower your payments, whether it’s to save for today, help other children with college costs or plan for your retirement, refinancing can get you a longer term. Many lenders have terms ranging from 5 to 20 years with multiple options in between.

The trade-off for a longer term with a refinance loan is that you will likely pay more in interest over the life of the loan. However, reputable lenders won’t penalize you for paying extra whenever you wish, which will reduce overall interest costs. You may feel like a longer-term loan, which doesn’t require high monthly payments and allows for extra payments at any time, provides a financial safety net.

If you’d like to see how repaying at a lower rate or with a different repayment term can impact your overall costs and monthly payment, or if you want to learn more about the benefit implications of refinancing federal loans into a new private loan, check out our Beginner’s Guide to Student Loan Refinance.

Keep in mind: Refinance loans with shorter term lengths typically provide the lowest rates that you see advertised. But even loans with longer terms often have rates lower than federal PLUS loan rates.

3. When you need a change

Refinancing your existing parent PLUS loans (or any other education loans in your name) lets you reset your loan; at today’s terms and on your terms.

When you and your child were reviewing financial aid award letters and trying to understand the different types of financial aid and student loans was likely a busy, stressful time. When you first signed paperwork for those loans, you may not have had enough time to fully consider the differences between federal loans for students and PLUS loans for parents and the financial impacts of taking out parent PLUS loans.

Today is a new day, and you can find that right mix of fixed interest rates and terms to set yourself up for financial success going forward. Take time to check out your different options, and determine how different rates, payments and terms will impact your short- and long-term budgets. Without the stress of making decisions quickly to pay college bills on time, you can find the right loan for you today.

Keep in mind: The better your credit, the lower rates you will be offered for the different loan terms available. The great thing with the refinance loans offered by most lenders is that you are able to select the rate and term combination that is right for you.

4. When it’s not you, it’s them. (The servicer that is.)

Education loans are long-term financial commitments, and like all long-term commitments, your partner plays an important role. With federal parent PLUS loans, you probably didn’t pick that partner, and maybe it’s just not working out. Maybe they aren’t giving you the attention you deserve. Maybe they’re a large corporation that cares more about profits than customer service. Or maybe they are constantly trying to sell you more or different financial products.

Whatever the reason, you can get away and pick your new partner. Lenders today offer a range of benefits like rate reductions for automatic payments or for military service. Many also have policies in place to forgive loans in the event of unfortunate circumstances. Now’s your chance to take a look around and make the choice your own.

Start by learning more about us and all the details on our refinance loan.

Keep in mind: Some lenders detail their repayment benefits and policies on their websites, while you may have to call and ask others for more details. Do you want to work with a lender who is transparent and provides all the information you are seeking in the manner you prefer? If you speak with representatives on the phone, are they pleasant and helpful or do they try to get you off the phone quickly without providing the information you need?

Ready to refinance?

Regardless of your situation, if you’re considering refinancing your parent PLUS loans, it’s important to spend time weighing your options and finding the right loan and lender for you. What do you not like about your current loans? What does work now? What would be ideal in a new refinance loan?

Want to know how we can help?

Iowa Student Loan offers the Reset Refinance Loan with a rates and terms to help meet your needs. We are a nonprofit business that focuses on Iowa students and families, but we proudly provide “Iowa nice” customer service no matter where you call home. Pre-qualify today and we’ll provide you with rate and term options specific to your situation.

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By: Iowa Student Loan

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